a finished sideboard or credenza
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How to Build a Sideboard from Stock Cabinets

This elegant storage piece comes together with off-the-shelf base kitchen cabinets and simple molding

Dishware, serving pieces, table linens—a sideboard packs a whole lot of storage space into a relatively small footprint, making it a handy addition to any household. A sturdy, high-quality one can leave a thousand-dollar dent in your finances, but as This Old House general contractor Tom Silva demonstrates, you can enhance a few stock kitchen base cabinets with molding, furniture feet, and knobs to produce a handcrafted piece for a fraction of the cost of buying one ready-made. Opt for unfinished 15- or 18-inch cabinets fitted with doors and operable drawers (not the fake drawer fronts used for sink cabinets) and take a day to put all the pieces together. Your handsome creation will turn heads at dinner parties for years to come.

The design for this sideboard is based on one found in the book The Find, by Stan Williams.

Paint: Fabulous Red in semigloss; Valspar. Rub n 'Buff Metallic Finishes in Antique Gold; Amaco.


Steps // How to Build a Sideboard from Stock Cabinets
1 ×

How to Turn Kitchen Cabinets into a Sideboard Overview

 
Step One // How to Build a Sideboard from Stock Cabinets

How to Turn Kitchen Cabinets into a Sideboard Overview

turning kitchen cabinets into a sideboard overview illustration
Illustration by Jennifer Stimpson

Build a sideboard

Turned feet and moldings will lend your finished piece some decorative flair. You'll find all the materials you need at any large home center.

Cut List
(download plan here)

one sheet of ½-inch cabinet-grade birch plywood
three 18-inch base cabinets
½x1 lattice strips
¾ bed molding
1x3 furring strips
½x2 lattice strips
three push door latches
six knobs
four furniture feet
four corner foot plates

All materials available at Lowes.

 
2 ×

Remove the Toekick

 
Step Two // How to Build a Sideboard from Stock Cabinets

Remove the Toekick

Tom Silva removing a toekick from a stock cabinet
Photo by Wendell T. Webber

To shorten each cabinet to accommodate feet, transfer a line that's flush with the bottom edge of the face frame to the toekick, sides, and back of each cabinet using a combination square. Remove the excess material using a hand saw.

 
3 ×

Fasten the Cabinets Together

 
Step Three // How to Build a Sideboard from Stock Cabinets

Fasten the Cabinets Together

Tom Silva fastening two stock cabinets together
Photo by Wendell T. Webber

Sandwich two 1x3 furring strips between the cabinets vertically to act as spacers. Using a drill/driver and 1 5/8 inch deck screws, fasten the cabinets together along the length of the strips, sinking the screws from both sides for added strength.

 
4 ×

Cover the Ends

 
Step Four // How to Build a Sideboard from Stock Cabinets

Cover the Ends

Tom Silva nailing furring strips to the unfinished ends of the joined cabinets
Photo by Wendell T. Webber

Nail two 1x3 furring strips vertically to the unfinished ends of the joined cabinets, front and back. If the edge of the face frame extends beyond the side, set the front furring strip behind it, as shown here.

Using a circular saw, cut two pieces of cabinet-grade plywood to cover the full sides of the joined cabinets. Use finish nails to secure them to the strips. Together, the furring strips and the plywood on the sides build out the ends of the cabinets enough to match the space between them.

 
5 ×

Clad the Front

 
Step Five // How to Build a Sideboard from Stock Cabinets

Clad the Front

Tom Silva attaching a lattice strip to the joined cabinets
Photo by Wendell T. Webber

Cut a ½x1 lattice strip 1 inch longer than the width of the joined cabinets. Attach it horizontally, on edge below the drawers, using finish nails.

To cover up the spacers and exposed plywood edges between the cabinets and at the ends, attach vertical ½x2 stiles cut to size above and below the strip you just attached.

 
6 ×

Attach Foot Plates

 
Step Six // How to Build a Sideboard from Stock Cabinets

Attach Foot Plates

Tom Silva attaching foot plates to the bottom of the joined cabinets
Photo by Wendell T. Webber

Screw foot plates to the bottoms of the cabinet corners.

 
7 ×

Screw in Feet

 
Step Seven // How to Build a Sideboard from Stock Cabinets

Screw in Feet

Tom Silva screwing feet into the foot plates
Photo by Wendell T. Webber

Thread the feet onto the plates until they sit snugly. Carefully flip the piece upright, standing it on its feet.

 
8 ×

Add the Knobs

 
Step Eight // How to Build a Sideboard from Stock Cabinets

Add the Knobs

Tom Silva attaching knobs to the drawer fronts of the joined cabinets
Photo by Wendell T. Webber

Drill two holes for the knobs in each drawer, making sure they're centered vertically and located about 4 inches in from each end. Hold each knob in place as you tighten the screw from the inside of the drawer.

 
9 ×

Mount the Door Latches

 
Step Nine // How to Build a Sideboard from Stock Cabinets

Mount the Door Latches

Tom Silva mounting door latches to the inside of the cabinet doors
Photo by Wendell T. Webber

Inside each cabinet, toward the top, nail a block against the back of the face frame where the push latch will go. Screw the latch into place so it's flush with the front of the frame, then screw the corresponding magnetic plate to the inside of the door.

Tip:
To position the magnetic plate properly on the inside of the door, color the back of the plate with a chalk, lipstick, or a felt-tipped marker, then affix the plate to the latch, the marker side facing out. When you close the door, the inked plate will leave a slight mark on the inside of the door where the plate should be positioned.

 
10 ×

Make the Top

 
Step Ten // How to Build a Sideboard from Stock Cabinets

Make the Top

Tom Silva building the top of the sideboard
Photo by Wendell T. Webber

Using a circular saw guided by a straightedge fence, cut a piece of plywood to the full width and depth of the piece, including the stiles on the front and the finished sides. Secure the top through the frame of each cabinet using a hammer and finish nails. Set the nails below the surface of the wood with a nail set.

 
11 ×

Trim the Top

 
Step Eleven // How to Build a Sideboard from Stock Cabinets

Trim the Top

Tom Silva adding the trim to the top of the sideboard
Photo by Wendell T. Webber

Affix bed molding, mitered at the corners, to the side and front edges of the top of the sideboard, using finish nails. Fill any seams and fastener holes with wood putty using a putty knife.

 
12 ×

Sand and Paint the Piece

 
Step Twelve // How to Build a Sideboard from Stock Cabinets

Sand and Paint the Piece

the finished sideboard, credenza
Photo by Wendell T. Webber

Sand the surface of the sideboard smooth with medium-grit sandpaper. Apply two coats of paint or stain and let dry completely. Highlight details with a metallic wax finish, such as Rub 'N Buff.

 
 
 

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